Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Tientos hits a reef!

 Don't panic - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
This situation has been put to its own post because there are no pictures showing a crisis. Seriously, who has time?

As we meandered through a number of islands, on the 22nd of May, Tientos slid slowly up onto an unmarked reef! 
This was not good and we were stuck! Tientos has a long wide keel and she was not going anywhere and the waves were building with an approaching storm. Dropping the dinghy to take the anchor out to a deep spot so we could kedge ourselves off seemed the obvious solution. Unfortunately, the waves swamped the dinghy and the outboard. Okay...time for Plan B. We put out a pan-pan to see if we could get a response from a fishing boat, small commercial vessel or the nearby Navy. The only answer was from a commercial ship who advised he would contact AMSA. Really? Flat lot of good they will do in Indonesia. 
Time for a rethink...and on to Plan C! Then just as we were thinking about Plan C, along came a small fishing boat; with my limited Bahasan and lots of gesticulating, they got the idea and dropped our anchor in the deep water area (300m away).  While I was finding food, money and deliberating which of my grandchildren to give them to say thank you, they just waved and left. 
Kedge time! Keith had deployed the spare 80lb CQR anchor with 300m of 1" rode. What seemed like forever may not have taken that long but at the same time Keith yelled 'the rode snapped', I yelled 'we're free' and the sat-phone wouldn't stop ringing!  As we headed into a small bay to drop our anchor, and have a small dram to settle our shattered nerves, 35knots of wind hit! 
So who was on the phone? AMSA of course checking on how we were. After confirming we were in top spirits (which we had a few of by this time) this great guy then tells us he called our daughter! However, the darling girl's only response was '...if they haven't set off their EPIRB, then they are fine...'.  That's the spirit (again) girl!
So what was Plan C? Even without the outboard motor, the tide (and lots of rowing) would have allowed Keith in the dinghy to drop the anchor in deep water. At no time did we consider abandoning our home; there is always Plan D!
 
The following morning...our 30 year old Nilsson winch decided enough was enough! Hey, she got us off the reef! So it was 500nm to Jakarta or 50nm back to Nongsa Point and Batam is wall to wall businesses serving the oil rig industry. Remember Keith's back? Well that didn't improve with having to operate the winch by hand as we returned to the Marina. 
Contacting James Nilsson in New Zealand required a whole lot more spirits when we found out the price! (This trip was depleting the spirit (which we normally don't drink) locker big time! 6K for a new winch?? Time to check the yellow pages. 
Petrus Indonesia came to the rescue. The gears had all been stripped, and the motor burnt out in the winch's' valiant effort kedging us off the reef. Petrus was stunned it actually kept working at the time. Not only did they completely rebuild the winch, they also polished the bronze gypsy, delivered and installed it. Our total cost? Just under $800. As an interesting addendum to the story of the winch, we later found another motor in Penang and put the business owner in touch with James Nilsson who were looking for motors. Good result!  
The location of the reef (which was subsequently found to be well off its mark)  was advised to  the British Hydrographer. 

Bob Couttie stated in one of his blogs: 'In ancient times, cartographers put the warning 'Here be dragons' on their maps when they really didn't know what was there...How do you stay clear of dragons?'
 
Tientos carries both electronic and paper charts but we do not rely on the veracity of these charts in areas which have been inadequately surveyed (Indonesia). Even if cruising a well-travelled road, earthquakes and volcanoes can easily change the profile of the seabed in this seismically active area. 
We prefer off-the-beaten path routes, so will continue exploring in our search for remote and unique anchorages, with extra vigilance and caution.